For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but mighty before God to the casting down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that is exalted against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ; and being in readiness to avenge all disobedience, when your obedience shall be made full (II Cor. 10:3-6).

Captive Thoughts” is dedicated to bringing every thought captive to Christ through the study of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms, with primary focus on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. This effort is a compilation of several years of catechetical study conducted at Westminster Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Westminster, California, by its Christian Education Committee and the author of this site.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Westminster Shorter Catechism Q15

The Doctrinal Heading for this section of questions (Q14-19) is Original Sin. (see Harmony Index)
We are using Training Hearts, Teaching Mindsby Starr Meade as the source book for the study questions. Those who have a copy of the book and are using it along with this study will have noticed that Questions 14 and 15 are combined. Although we are keeping them separate for this study, it is good to see the connection between them. Question 14 gives us an excellent definition of sin, while Question 15 mentions its entrance onto the stage of human experience.
It is often said that, “what we believe has consequences.” Every human action - no matter how seemingly insignificant - flows from our heart-level beliefs. We know, of course, that what we do also has consequences. Our beliefs lead to actions that result in further consequences. We must give thoughtful consideration to the consequences of sin, both as it relates to our first parents and to our own sinful thoughts and actions that result from unbiblical beliefs. May God grant us grace so that we do “not suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18) as that truth applies to our every thought, word, and deed. May we instead “study to show ourselves approved unto God, rightly dividing (or understanding) the Word of Truth” (I Tim. 2:15).
WSC Q15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A. The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created was their eating the forbidden fruit.
[a] Gen. 3:6-8, 13; II Cor. 11:3
Question #15 asks what sin our first parents committed, resulting in their fall from their original condition, and answers that they ate the forbidden fruit.
Comments and considerations:
It seems like such a trivial matter doesn’t it? I once thought that if I were God I would have made the test more monumental, more heroic, more challenging, so that it would require iron-willed effort to withstand it. God himself chose merely a forbidden fruit.
But that’s the point, isn’t it? The Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things… who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). Our first parents, placing too much trust to their own narrow understanding, driven by mere appearance and the subtle reasoning of an intruder, fell prey to their sinful desire - when in fact they were in want of absolutely nothing in physical possessions and pleasures, owning all that was necessary for life and happiness. Given the perfect happiness of their situation, their dramatic failure is all the more pitiful and tragic.
If, however, we pause to consider the scene more closely, we see that this trivial matter is not so trivial after all. Certainly, the consequences alone make that perfectly clear. In addition, every one of the Ten Commandments was violated through that one act of “disobedience.” 1) Adam and Eve failed to have “no other god” rule and direct them; they heeded another, and took authority upon themselves to determine right and wrong. 2) As image bearers, they marred the glory of God, hiding, of necessity, what he had made to reveal himself as they made garments from figs leaves. 3) As the first offspring of God, they carried his name in vain, even in denying his commandment in which he magnifies his Word above his name (see Ps. 138:2). 4) They ceased to “rest” in the eternal provisions of their God, denying the Sabbath principle for things set apart for God’s disposition alone. 5) They dishonored their supreme Father, their Creator. 6) They brought upon themselves the curse of death, which entered immediately where only life had existed; murder soon became the natural course of man and beast, reflecting the spiritual murder of their crime against God. 7) They fell into a state of shame regarding their nakedness, with all its implications for disunity, betrayal, adultery, and unfaithfulness. 8) They broke this commandment most clearly, as they took the one thing that was off-limits to them. 9) They bore false witness against their God and against one another, believing the author of lies and becoming liars themselves. And finally, 10) they coveted that which belonged to the eternal God, demonstrating the heart of the issue, their want of conformity unto and transgression of the law of God, so making them guilty of all.
What we believe has consequences. The Ten Commandments came many years after the Fall, written by the finger of God on tablets of stone. But Scripture teaches us that God has written eternity on our hearts (Ecc. 3:11), so that we, like our first parents, know his law even though we may not have it in hand (Rom. 2:14). Thus we, like they, are without excuse. Paul warns us not to “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom 1:18), but rather to bring “every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (II Cor. 10:5).
Jesus said, “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28) Let us give heed and “be diligent to enter that rest, lest anyone fall according to the same example of disobedience” (Heb. 4:11), with its tragic, eternal consequences.
Training Hearts and Teaching Minds Questions:
1.    When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, how did he answer? See Matt. 22:37-40. Now, read Rom. 13:8-10. Knowing ourselves as we do, and our own self-centered motivation, what problem(s) do these passages present concerning sinful attitudes and behaviors?
2.    It might seem that it would have been easy to keep the one, simple command given to Adam and Eve. What can we learn from their fall into temptation? Read II Cor. 11:3.
3.    We are taught from God’s Word that sin is both doing wrong (transgressing the Law) and failing to do right (not conforming to it). Read Rom. 3:23. The word “sin” here means missing the mark (like an arrow missing the target). How is “sin” like missing the mark in glorifying God? See Lev. 20:7 and I Pet. 1:15-16.

Harmony of the Standards:WSC Q# 15 and WCF VI.II.
WSC Q15. What was the sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created?
A.  The sin whereby our first parents fell from the estate wherein they were created, was their eating the forbidden fruit[a].
 [a]  Gen. 3:6, 7, 8, 13; II Cor 11:3
Of the Fall of Man, of Sin, and of the
Punishment thereof.
II.  By this sin they fell from their original righteousness and communion, with God[a], and so became dead in sin[b], and wholly defiled in all the faculties and parts of soul and body[c].
[a] Gen. 3:6-8; Gen. 2:17; Rom. 3:23
[b] Gen. 2:17; Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 5:12
[c] Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Titus 1:15; Rom. 3:10-19; Rom. 8:6-8; Psa. 58:1-5
Questions for further study:
What key doctrine of reformed understanding finds definition in both the action of our first parents and how Confession VI.I describes the consequences of their action? Ans: Total _________(1)
1. Depravity

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